Bella DiNardo and Chloe McGregor are a solid 1-2 punch for the Hopewell Valley Central High School field hockey team.
As underclassmen a year ago, the duo combined for 19 goals and 11 assists for a 12-6-1 Hopewell Valley club. Both players are among the best scorers and distributors in the Colonial Valley Conference.
But beyond them, the 2019 Bulldogs are still figuring it out.
Utility player Kate Jackson is the only other returning starter from last year’s team, which reached the quarterfinals of both the Mercer County Tournament and the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group 2 Tournament.
So Hopewell Valley’s 12th-year coach, Pam Edwards, has a multi-faceted challenge in front of her–she must figure out a starting lineup and then make it jell.
If Edwards can accomplish both, the Bulldogs can be as good as they were last fall.
Hopewell Valley will begin its regular season on Sept. 4 at West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North. The opening face off is set for 4:15 p.m.
“We look good,” Edwards said. “We have a hard working group of young ladies.”
It will all start with DiNardo, a junior, and McGregor, a sophomore, in the midfield. The teammates, who also play together in the offseason for the Princeton Field Hockey Club, are both two way players with telekinetic chemistry.
“They make strong contributions on offense and defense, and they work so well together,” Edwards said.
Jackson, a junior, is a third-year varsity player who can step in wherever Edwards needs a body. The utility player is out with an injury right now, but Edwards hopes to have her back early in the season.
The rest of the lineup will be filled with underclassmen. But Edwards loves the talent she has in her sophomore class.
Midfielder Caroline Colavita is a two way talent who also plays for the Princeton Field Hockey Club. This fall, she might just grow into the next DiNardo or McGregor.
Forward Isabella Randazzo is capable of leading the Bulldogs in goals.
“She has a nice stick,” Edwards said.
Defender Sofia Zangrilli will probably make opposing forwards feel, and possibly regret, their runs toward the Hopewell Valley net.
“She’s a tough defender,” Edwards said. “Very tough.”
Goaltender Mariel Haynes already has a ton of experience at the position. She started a few varsity games last year, played field hockey goalie all summer in different camps and even played goalie in girls’ lacrosse for Hopewell Valley last spring.
Edwards emailed Haynes the night before her varsity starts last fall, and the goalie was ready every time.
“She played well,” Edwards said. “That’s tough as a freshman.”
The Bulldogs are in an interesting spot. They have two varsity standouts, DiNardo and McGregor, in the primes of their high school careers. But they are also going young to build a nucleus for the future.
Fortunately though, DiNardo and McGregor are still young as well, and the rest of the lineup is good enough to help win games right away.
That’s why Edwards mentioned so many names even before the season started. High school coaches only name drop when they are confident in the players.
“We definitely have a good nucleus for the future as well as winning for this year, too,” Edwards said.